The black haired youth released the cloth of Dumbledore's outstretched sleeve and crinkled up his face, making certain it was still able to move as he strongly suspected he had just been drawn through a rather long and thin rubber tube. Then, he pushed up the round glasses on his nose and looked about.
The two of them stood before the gate of a modest town house, make of mostly brick. Harry eyed the darkened street warily, as there were many cars parked along the curb, a fact which definitely made this place they were visiting a Muggle neighborhood, but he noticed no people were to be seen gazing out the many windows that surrounded them.
"Sir?" Harry said. "Where are.."
"A place very near Little Whinging.. we.."
A car with big wheels, roughly the size of an over fed house cat, with a rather long and rather crooked metallic antenna, whined loudly as it bounced along the sidewalk. It rammed clumsily into the brick wall before them, and stopped moving for several moments. Then, it jerked, backed up a bit, then made a wide berth of them both as it suddenly zoomed on past the pair and around the wall.
Not a soul trotted out to see it along as Harry had seen countless times with other such Muggle devices in the public park.
"Ah. They'll know we've arrived." Dumbledore said smoothly, and opened the gate before him with his left.
Harry followed, glancing briefly at the name printed clearly on the mailbox: It said 'Eilrech'. He furrowed his brows.
Soon, he sat on the couch, remembering well all the many questions he wanted to ask as he looked at the boy before him: Alphonse, officially the second Boy-Who-Lived in the Wizarding World, was gently poking at a softly purring fuzzy bundle located in his inside coat pocket at the moment.
"Um.. Hi, um. Alphonse.?"
The boy looked up and smiled politely; golden eyes so like Ed's: They held the same great age to them, as if they had seen far too much. Yet unlike Ed's piercing, intimidating gaze; they held a deep kindness that spoke of a gentle strength.
"Hiello. Jou...um arh Harry, yezs?" Alphonse said, appearing to struggle with working his tongue and lips just so, resulting in an accent so thick that Harry really only caught his own name.
"Yes." Harry replied, and smiled back.
"...however he managed to come back from the curse..." Dumbledore's voice wafted out from the kitchen.
"...Is none of their concern." He heard Ed say firmly in much improved English as he came from the kitchen bearing a tray laden with five mugs and piled high with much munchies. "However, if they persist, and I am sure they will, either, one: I will beat them all bloodie or, two: I will insist my brother is still in recovery, and as such, is a deeply private matter."
Ed gently set the tray on the table, and immediately looked first at Alphonse, gave the barest of smiles, that vanished as soon as he looked to Harry, to whom he gave a small nod.
"Oy. Yes... Bravo. So your plan is that you alone will handle the wizarding reporters...?" Tonks said.
"Hate babysitters- I want nothing to do with that damnable Ministry of yours, but since this thing with Moldie shorts happened- they keep sending! Amateurs! You are at the least tolerable, Tonks.. But de odhers..? Elite Aurors? Really? We. Are travelers by nature, and vill go from this place, mabbe in a week or two. Loosing them will be simple thing."
"Um speaking of..." Tonks began. "You know Moody and the others will want to know. You know how Moody is right? He'll insist Al here is an Infernus of all things and.."
"Is a big world. I have no wish to be apart of this stupid war of yours, so seeing DAT 'Al' anytime soon is unlikely. "
"You may not have that luxury.." Dumbledore said. "Tom is getting bolder.. You know you still hold the key to what he wants, and, wherever you go, I suspect he will stop at nothing to seek you out. At least at my school you both will be.."
Ed's hair hid his face as he froze and interrupted.
"Hey old fart. Tell to me wvhat dat school motto of yours is again?"
"Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus" Dumbledore said. "At least consider my offer..? Alchemy such as yours deserves to be passed on to the next wizarding generation..."
Alphonse's brows creased, and he blinked quickly as he carefully worked his mouth and tongue.
"Nebbehr tikkel uh zleeppink drrakkon." Then said something Harry didn't quite catch.
Ed moved, gave that barest of smiles again, somewhere between a smirk and a frown, and said something in his native tongue. Alphonse replied with the same sort of difficulty in the same language as he reached for a mug, then creased his brows again, carefully arranging his fingers in a rather clumsy matter.
Ed sighed, and said a single word. Alphonse nodded, and with great, almost exaggerated care, lifted the mug.
He turned his gaze back to Alphonse, sitting beside him.
"He trusts you. Too much, I tink. He wants me to speak for him, to be clear for you."
"He.. Uh...speaks quite.." Dumbledore started,
"No neet to be kind, old fart." Ed looked to Dumbledore. "I don like it, but Al says he wants you all to know." Ed reached for a mug himself with his right. Darting glances at each of them. "Al believes he.. we.. owe dat much as payment for you all for protecting me as best you coult in dat... vroom."
Ed took a large gulp of his steaming coffee. Harry winced just watching, certain Ed HAD to have scalded his throat. Wait..
"Truth is. De curse.. It uh. He vas disconnected completely. He is now having to relearn how to use his own body. He says he is used to it.. He's.. Um. How to put this into words.. Um."
Ed looked at Al, and chewed his lower lip as his brows lowered in thought. He irritatedly batted away a rather large flying insect buzzing by with his left, looked at their faces and continued.
"He is. Loosely bound to his body. I guess. De curse basically made him get lost for little vhile."
Harry skewed up his face in confusion, and he saw Dumbledore and Tonks look equally confused.
"He..he has told me he can put himself into objects for short periods by splitting his soul somehow. At least when his Alchemy was working he did. He hasn't tried it since arriving, and. I vill not vrisk letting him do so until he is vell."
Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"He.." Dumbledore began delicately. "He saw the battle..?"
"He saw most everting. vOnce Sirius fell trew dat ting on the dais anyvay..."
"You mean that um. stone arch.. Um..The Veil?" Tonks prompted.
Ed wrinkled his nose as he interrupted.
"Dat ting. Vas no stone archway. Vas disgusting to look at.. Like looking at maggots feeding on flesh gone bad.." He gulped down another swig of coffee. "Something.. A bridge I guess, likely formed from the spells tossed at dhat thing on the dais to attach to.. a someting else.. Back home."
"Is.. Is Sirius.." Harry began hopefully. "Is he alive..?"
Ed looked hard at Harry.
"Al is trained field medic. He treated him as best he coult. If all vent vell, Sirius is at State Hospital by now."
"Knew it ..knew it." Harry said, breathing his relief, "..so all we have to do to get him back is.."
"If. He lives. He is trapped." Ed corrected, and looked down into his coffee. "Like me. And now Al. Just like for us here... My home is vast prison for him now."
Harry narrowed his eyes.
"You.. You have to be wrong."
Ed looked at Harry steadily, eyebrows skewing upwards.
"You have to be lying. I will see Sirius again.."
"Harry. Life flows in only vone direction."
"You lie.. I was there. You were about to .."
"YOU WERE BLOODY SURE YOU WERE GOING TO BRING YOUR DEAD BROTHER BACK AND YOU BLOODY WELL KNOW IT..!"
Ed's mug shattered beneath his hand. Ed frowned and looked down at the floor as his hands fisted up tight. Alphonse reached out a hand, and lightly placed it on Ed's remaining, only living, forearm. After a few minutes of tense silence, Ed abruptly stood and, by the slamming Harry heard, completely left by the kitchen door.
When Dumbledore and Tonks both rose to go after him, Alphonse held up his hand and got their attention by shaking his head.
"NnNo." Al said. "Ice.. Ice mm time.."
"You mean HE needs cooling off..?" Tonks scoffed as she folded her arms and looked at Harry.
Al fisted his hands, and lowered his brows. He pointed at Harry, and made another fist as he let out a puff of breath with a frown. Alphonse then looked to Dumbledore, and carefully, painfully slow, said something that Harry didn't understand. Dumbledore nodded.
"Harry, he has just asked me to translate, as Edward had informed him that I happen speak their language."
Alphonse then began to speak.
"Brother... (He means Edward)..
He has told me of your laws.. About the unforgivable curses. One of which I understand hit me. Here, you only go to a prison if you use them on another human being."
"Only? I hardly think Azkaban's.." Tonks interrupted.
"Shh." Harry said.
"Back home, there are similar laws, only the penalty for breaking them is death. (Oh my, how harsh.)
First: never oppose the State. The second: never make gold.
The third: never make humans."
Dumbledore then asked something. Alphonse replied.
"Making humans is the same as bringing the dead back to life, apparently..."
"and... Of all the State laws, only the third is actually a sort of kindness, as Alchemists are usually quite maimed by the attempt. In all of his travels about his home, searching for some sign of Edward, Alphonse has met and known only a total of five Alchemists who have survived actually performing such a feat. He says..
"..He says, Brother and I both are two of those Alchemists."
Alphonse seemed to shrink right before Harry's eyes, going suddenly quiet and folding up his arms, stopping only when a small mew of protest sounded in his pocket.
"Brother would say it's equivalent that we are here.. That it is a fair trade for him to be trapped in this place for what we've done.
"We both knew it was wrong, even though we were young. We both.. We both paid heavily. We.. We tried to bring back our mother. We only wanted to see her smile once more, and we.. How awful. We made a horrible monster instead. One with her face.
"Brother. He lost his left leg in that attempt. Then, suffering from the blood loss and pain of that, had the presence of mind to sacrifice his entire right arm to... Alphonse.. Shh shh..it's quite alright... Shh.. He says...to save me."
Dumbledore said something, and Alphonse shook his head. And spoke some more. Dumbledore's face went a bit ashy, and Harry got the sense that he chose not to share the bulk of what he heard.
"He.. He always said it was because of a stupid mistake. But. But Sirius.. " Harry began lamely..
"It.. It is not a ever thing to be done lightly." Dumbledore said with compassion, and in another, more saddened tone. "I'm sorry, Harry. I truly am. However, I judge that for any of us to expect Edward to make such an effort in retrieving Sirius is.. Is imposing far too much."
"Then have him teach me.." Harry blurted. "I'll..I'll do it. I'll bring Sirius ...!"
"NnNo." The golden eyed boy interrupted firmly, and shook his head sadly. "Nnno. Neeber."
Harry glared at the boy, and tightened his fists.
"Jou... Vvil onlzy. MMmake p-pain. Mmuch. Mmuch vvorzse. Live. Be.. Be hh-hole."
Harry scrunched his face as he looked into those kind.. strong.. golden eyes.
"Be whole... He said." Harry whispered to the moving image of the second "Boy-Who-Lived" wizarding newspaper, sent by Hermione by owl that morning.
The headline read:
Mystery Revealed: Second "Boy-Who-Lived", a male "Veil-a", Tells All..! Shares Heartbreaking Story and Lost Secrets of Reviving the Dead. Bonus - Harry Potter, the first "Boy-Who-Lived", Shared Bond With Notorious Murderer, Sirius Black.
Written by Rita Skeeter.
Wherever he was now, most likely somewhere on the Muggle side of things, Harry sincerely hoped that Ed would never see it. With a sinking heart, Harry wished he hadn't already.